Health experts warn of a new coronavirus wave over the winter period, saying there are factors that speed up the transmission of the virus.
Their concerns comes as people worry about the potential surge of coronavirus cases in the Northern Hemisphere when the seasons change. Respiratory illnesses are more common during cooler weather conditions.
Moreover, people likely spend more time inside their homes clustered together in winter, with poor ventilation and smaller personal space than in summer.
Respiratory diseases like Covid-19 usually spread through droplets that are produced by coughing or sneezing.
In addition, experts stress the impact of colder and drier conditions in winter on the transmission of flu-like illnesses.
“It is not an unreasonable hypothesis to think that it will get worse in the winter,” Dr. Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said during an interview with CNBC.
“It is not a ridiculous notion to float, there just isn’t any evidence for it. We can’t have any evidence of seasonality because we have known about it for less than a year. We haven’t been through one cycle yet,” he noted.
Winter in UK
UK may record 119,900 new coronavirus deaths this winter, experts say in a report from the Academy of Medical Sciences and recommend “intense preparation.”
In the report “Preparing for a challenging winter 2020/2021,” the group of scientists call on the UK government to prepare for a potential new surge of coronavirus infections. They say this new wave could be more serious than the first and warned that UK may face 120,000 additional coronavirus deaths this winter.
An advisory group of 37 experts from the academy suggests intense preparation for the rest of July and August to ease the risk of burdening the National Health Service this winter.
The report’s model predicts that Covid-19 infections in the UK will soar again in the fall and reach a peak in January and February, the busiest time of year for the NHS.
According to experts, the number of hospital deaths this winter would be twice the number from the first wave.
However, some experts say that the health crisis may persist even beyond the winter season.
According to their report, the coronavirus pandemic was more contagious than the flu. It was likely to spread even after a first wave this spring.
Researchers from the university’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) noted that the new coronavirus has a longer incubation period than the flu. This means that symptoms may take longer to appear after a person got the virus.
The first scenario would last through spring 2020. Then, “a series of repetitive smaller waves” would occur throughout the summer. This will be consistent over a one to two-year period. The virus would then slowly disappear “sometime in 2021.”
“Depending on the height of the wave peaks, this scenario could require periodic reinstitution and subsequent relaxation of mitigation measures over the next one to two years.”
The second scenario has the first wave of the coronavirus in the spring first before a larger wave in the fall or winter of 2020. The report adds that one or more smaller waves would come afterward in 2021. This scenario was similar to the one experienced during the 1918 flu outbreak.
Based on the report, the final scenario sees the first wave fading into a “slow burn” of ongoing transmission. However, there is no visible wave pattern. The pattern could be different based on locations. The degree of mitigation measures in place in different regions could be a factor.